(1) Introduction.

I have studied Jesus' trial before Pilate in the following expositions:


and Luke23v1to25.

I will adopt a different strategy in this exposition by concentrating on the price paid by the different groups and individuals involved in the trial of Jesus.

(1) The price paid by the Jewish leaders for their racial insult.

John records that the Jewish members of the Sanhedrin would not enter Pilate's palace to lay their charge agaist Jesus. They believed it made them ceremonially unclean to enter the residence of a Gentile. This would disbar them from observing the Passover.

I can well imagine Pilate's annoyance at being treated as someone unclean. That being the case he was very unlikely to be sympathetic to the Jewish leaders. The antagonism that existed between the Jews and Pilate did not bode well for Jesus.

I am afraid that many forms of prejudice exist today between Christians and unbelievers. I heard of one case only this afternoon. A friend of mine is going to the Ukraine to bring a little happiness to children in an orphanage. He hopes during his visit to tell them a few Bible stories. One gentleman, a very nice man, donated a few pounds towards my friend's venture with the proviso that Eric doesn't impose his Christian beliefs on impressionable children. So much for Jesus', "Suffer the children to come unto me." What harm is going to be done any child to hear about the Lord Jesus Christ. You would think, the way some people react to his name, that Jesus is a cross between Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

However, I am afraid prejudice is rife among religious adherents. Liberals in the Church of England accuse the conservative evangelicals of bigotry. Roman Catholics will not sit down to Communion with Protestants. Members of the Exclusive Brethren have as little to do with unbelievers as possible in spite of Jesus being known in his lifetime as the friend of publicans and sinners.

Prejudice precludes any rational debate between opposing parties.

(2) The price paid by Pilate for offending Jewish susceptibilities.

When Pilate was appointed procurator of Judaea he abandoned the Roman policy of dealing with the Jews cautiously on account of their fanatical religious beliefs. He adopted a more confrontational stance. For example, he upset the Jews by marching his troops into Jerusalem bearing the Roman standard, an eagle on a pole, in defiance of Jewish' hatred of graven images. He improved the water supply of Jerusalem but only after raiding the temple treasury to pay for the work.

So, by the time of Jesus' trial Pilate could not afford to antagonise the Jews yet again. When he heard the Jews shouting, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar." (Jn19v12) - He knew his room for manoeuvre was minimal.

Pilate was hostage to past mistakes.

This was undoubtedly true also of king David. He lost authority over his family after his adultery with Bathsheeba. When Amnon raped his brother Absalom's sister, Tamar, David did nothing to discipline his wayward son. Two years after the event Absalom arranged to have his half-brother, Amnon, murdered.

Many people pay a high price for marital infidelity and political misjudgements.

I can remember when I was a young man, contradicting my father - putting him right! We were entertaining another Grace Baptist minister at the time. My mother said to me, "Pastor X didn't like what you said to your father, John. You should have seen his face!" Pastor X never did my reputation any good. I have never preached in the church he pastored to this day!

(3) The price paid by Jesus for popularity with the masses.

Pilate knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.

Envy is highly destructive of human relationships. It is the motivation for many mean spirited, malicious words and acts. Joseph's brothers were envious of him. Jacob spoiled his youngest son and his other sons could not stand it. When they had the chance, Joseph's brothers sold him to Midian slave traders on their way to Egypt.

I think Peter was rather envious of John. After his resurrection Jesus singled Peter out for a little chat by the sea of Galilee. Jesus made it quite clear what he expected of Peter in the future. When Peter saw John tailing along behind them he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?" Jesus' rather sharp words indicate the relationship between the two disciples was not all it should have been.

Only a few weeks have passed since the death of the evangelist, Billy Graham. Some of his bitterest opponents were envious of his success as an evangelist.

(4) The price Pilate paid for a spectacular error of judgment.

Pilate misjudged the mood of the crowd. He offered to release Barabbas or Jesus as part of his contribution to the Passover festival. Pilate thought the mob would choose Jesus, the healer and teacher, not the violent revolutionary, Barabbas. Pilate abrogated responsibility to avoid making a tricky decision.

We experienced something like this in the UK when Prime Minister, David Cameron, called a referendum on whether to remain in the EU or to withdraw. He, and many other politicians both at home and abroad, thought the result, to stop in the EU, was a forlorn conclusion. They miscalculated the mood of the British people! The truth of the matter is that Mr Cameron and his ministers should have made the decision - that is what they were elected for. The Prime Minister allowed a referendum to get his right wing critics off his back.

Pilate should have decided to free Jesus and not put the responsibility on the Jewish people. The mob is rarely a good judge in such circumstances. Leaders should lead! This is true in the church. The elders should make the majority of decisions.

In the association of churches to which I belong, decisions are made by each individual church by the democratic vote of the members. There is not much evidence in the New Testament that this was the model for the early church.

(5) The price Jesus paid for his passivity.

Jesus paid a heavy price for his inaction, his silence, at his arrest and trial. The crowd who only a few days earlier had accompanied Jesus into Jerusalem shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" were disappointed in him. Jesus had done nothing to satisfy their expectations. He submitted tamely to his arrest. He put up a poor show at his trial before the Sanhedrin. Now, he had nothing to say for himself standing accused before Pilate. The revolutionary, Barabbas, had shown more spirit. He at least had led an uprising against the Romans.

Jesus was: Led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. Is53v7.

I found during my career as a teacher that those who got on had plenty to say. They were good at self-promotion and thinking up tasks for others to do. The quieter souls, who kept their mouths shut and concentrated on getting on with the job, were overlooked.

The apostle Paul's reputation in the church of Corinth suffered with the arrival of the "super apostles" from Jerusalem. They outshone the little apostle in matters of personal appearance, eloquence and publicity. Paul spent the greater part of his second letter to the Corinthians defending his ministry.

(6) The price paid by Pilate for not administering justice.

The Romans introduced the rule of law throughout their empire. It is something, along with their roads and attention to hygiene, for which they are justly famed. Such was the Roman's commitment to law and order that Jesus could expect to be set free being found innocent on all charges.

Pilate knew that Jesus was no revolutionary. Jesus told the Governor what he in all probability already knew: "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." Jn18v35and36. The Lord went on to tell Pilate that his subjects consisted of those who were committed to the truth he proclaimed. Based on what Jesus said, information gathered by his intelligence officers and his knowledge of the Jewish leaders, Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent of the charges brought against him. See Jn19v6.

Instead of doing his job and seeing justice was done Pilate even did the Jew's dirty work for them! He could have handed Jesus over to the Jews for death by stoning, but instead, he arranged for Roman soldiers to first scourge him and then crucify him. Both punishments involved acute suffering and Pilate must have known that neither was justified. He could have at least spared Jesus the scourging! Perhaps he was making Jesus suffer for the humiliating position in which he found himself.

Pilate has had a price to pay. He has gone down throughout history as an unprincipled coward who did not have the courage of his convictions.

Justice is never served by weak-willed men who wash their hands of responsibility to uphold the law and fail miserably to stand up for the innocent. People like Pilate are inclined to assert their authority by taking it out on the weak and defenceless.

(7) The price paid by the Jewish people for their arrogance.

Pilate washed his hands in front of the crowd and said, "I am innocent of this man's blood. It is your responsibility." ALL THE PEOPLE ANSWERED, "Let his blood be on us and our children."

The Jews paid a terrible price for their pride, intransigence and self-seeking. It was these traits which led to a revolt in 70AD which the Romans suppressed with inhuman brutality. Jerusalem, including the temple, was laid waste, men, women and children put to death, and the nation of Judaea destroyed. For nearly 2000 years there was no Jewish state.

All this was not the act of a vindictive, Christian God but the inevitable outcome of the Jews of the time possessing those attributes that led them to reject Jesus - the Messiah, the Son of God.

Today, there are people, some of whom call themselves Christians, who will not accept that there are consequences for rejecting Jesus. Nobody HAS to reject Jesus. It is inevitable that if a person rejects Jesus and all he has done for them, that ultimately Jesus will reject them. One of the texts I nearly always quote at funerals is: John4v35and36: The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

(8) The price Jesus had to pay for the sins of the world.

Jesus was fair minded and explained to Pilate that he was not a king in the earthly sense. However he did not respond to the accusations made against him by members of the Sanhedrin. See Mt27v12. This is because Jesus had no interest in avoiding death by crucifixion. He had already wrestled with God the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane over the saving work he had been given to do. Jesus knew that he had 12 legions of angels at his disposal. He told Peter as much at his arrest: "Put your sword back in its place. .... Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will AT ONCE put at my disposal 12 legions of angels?" Mt26v52and53.

Jesus was intent on fulfilling the prophecy of Is53v4to6: Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows yet we considered him stricken of God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Jesus was going to atone for sin by offering himself as a sacrifice while hanging on a cross at Calvary. He paid the price to set us free.

          Christ has for sin atonement made:
          What a wonderful Saviour!
          We are redeemed! - The price is paid:
          What a wonderful Saviour!

          What a wonderful Saviour is Jesus, my Jesus!
          What a wonderful Saviour is Jesus, my Lord!

Simple words - but profoundly true!